Rav Chaim Davidson (1760-1854). Born in Pinchov, he lost his father at an early age. After his bar mitzvah, he moved to Warsaw, making it his home for the next 80 years. When Hoffmann, the chief Prussian administrator of Warsaw, insisted that every Jew adopt a surname for use on official documents 1795, Reb Chaim took the name Davidson, in honor of his father. In addition to studying at the yeshiva of the Nesivos in Lissa, Rav Chaim often visited and studied with Rabbi Akiva Eiger. In 1802, the maskilim were numerous enough to open their own shul. After 1815 when Russia annexed Warsaw, a partnership developed between the autonomous Polish government and Haskala Jews. An edict in 1821 decreed the abolition of the kehillos, and substituted them with “Congregational Boards” consisting of the Rav, his assistant, and three trustees. In 1822, Rav Chaim was chosen as one of Warsaw’s three trustees and held this position for two years. After the passing of the Chemdas Shlomo in 1839, a council appointed Rav Chaim to be the new Rav of Warsaw. Thereafter, his wealthy son, Rav Naftali, supplied him with funds to continue the numerous chesed projects he had financed.
Rav Shimon (ben Moshe) Sofer, Rav and Av Beis Din of Cracow (1821-1883). Born in Pressburg, the second son of the Chasam Sofer
Rav Yisrael Ze’ev Mintzberg, Av Beis Din of K’hal Chassidim (or K’hal Masmidim) in Yerushalayim (1962)
Rav Avraham Menachem (ben Yehuda Moshe) Danziger, the ninth Admor of Alexander (1921-2005). The Alexander Chassidim, which outnumber all others in Europe except for Ger, all but perished during the Holocaust. The broken pieces were put together by Rav Yehuda Moshe, who had departed Poland for Eretz Yisrael in 1934. Of his 9 sons, only one survived., Rav Avraham Menachem. He was survived by 3 sons, 4 daughters, and thousands of pages of chidushei Torah yet to be published.
Today in History – 17 Adar
· Crusader massacre of the Jews of Wurtzburg, 1147.
· In Strasbourg, a riot ensued in the town after corn prices fell, 1349. Despite the protests of the city council, the Jews were accused of a conspiracy. The entire Jewish population of 2000 were dragged to the cemetery and burned to death. Only those who accepted Christianity were allowed to live.
· The Romanian government prohibited Jews from engaging in handicrafts or trade, 1902.
· Beginning of the Battle of Verdun in France, World War I, 1916. One of the most important battles in World War I on the Western Front, fought between the German and French armies, it resulted in more than a quarter million killed and half a million injured.
· The Bulgarian commissar for Jewish affairs, Alexander Belev, signed an agreement permitting Germany to deport 26,000 Jews to extermination camps, 1943.
· The Jewish quarter of Old Yerushalayim was besieged by Arabs, 1948. The Jews were cut off from the Jewish community in new Yerushalayim whenaccess to the gates in the walls of Yerushalayim was barred to them.
· A peace treaty was signed by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat at the White House, 1979.